These thematically rich poems about animals, nature, and more will be sure to engage your elementary students!
Reading poetry is a wonderful way to improve your students’ reading skills. Poems that cover a wide range of themes and types of figurative language will engage your students while helping them learn important literary analysis skills.
Here is a wonderful set of poems for grades 3-5 about topics like animals, nature, and more to explore!
“One of a Kind” by J. Patrick Lewis (3rd Grade)
In this short poem, the speaker describes a turtle that believes it has seen everything. The Sky drops a single snowflake down to the turtle, showing the turtle that there is always something new to discover.
This poem provides students with the opportunity to make connections to their own experiences with nature. Ask students Discussion Question 2, “What are some unique things in nature and animals that surround us in this world?”
“Poppy’s Jalopy” by Caroline Pignat (3rd Grade)
In this heartwarming poem, a speaker describes their grandfather’s old car. The jalopy is battered, rusted, and no longer runs, but the speaker and their grandfather are still able to go on incredible imaginary adventures together
This poem digs into themes of imagination and happiness. Ask students Discussion Question 1, “In the poem, going on imaginary adventures brings the speaker happiness. How much happiness is unique to individual people? Have you ever found happiness by just imagining something? If so, describe the experience.”
“Humpty Dumpty” by JonAron Lawson (3rd Grade)
Students will immediately recognize this classic nursery rhyme, in which a speaker describes Humpty Dumpty’s attempts to find safety underneath a chicken to avoid falling and shattering. Much to Humpty Dumpty’s surprise, his shell begins to crack from within, as the chick begins to hatch!
After reading this poem, show students the video “Chick Hatching” under Related Media. Then, ask students to analyze the language in the poem by comparing the poem’s description of a chick hatching with how it appears in the video.
“The Mysterious Egg” by Jennifer Mann (3rd Grade)
In this poem, a mysterious egg rolls into a farmhouse one stormy night. The animals wonder whose egg it could be while they wait for it to hatch. When a turtle pops out, the animals decide to raise the turtle together on the farm.
Consider assigning CommonLit’s Guided Reading Mode to your students while they read this text. The Guiding Questions will help students understand the farm animals’ varying thoughts about the mysterious egg. Then, students can discuss why the animals had different perspectives.
“Mountains” by Rukiye Henderson (4th Grade)
In this powerful poem, the speaker describes the feeling of being surrounded by mountains on a hike. The evocative imagery helps the reader understand the enormous size and beauty of the mountains.
As students read, have them follow the annotation task, which asks them to take notes on how the speaker feels about nature. Then, have students use their notes to discuss how the speaker’s use of imagery conveys the poem’s message.
“Dawn” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (5th Grade)
In this poem by renowned author Paul Laurence Dunbar, a speaker uses personification to describe the dawn. This short but thematically rich poem provides students with a meaningful opportunity to analyze the nuances of its figurative language.
As students read, have them follow the annotation task, which asks them to take notes on the author’s choice of words to describe nature. Then, after reading, have students use their notes to discuss how the figurative language conveys the poem’s message.
“The Rose that Grew from Concrete” by Tupac Shakur (5th Grade)
In this poem by influential rapper Tupac Shakur, a speaker asks if the reader has heard of the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete. Despite growing in a difficult location, the rose flourished. The extended metaphor helps students visualize how people can overcome difficulties and find success.
After reading, provide students with the opportunity to make text-to-self connections. Ask Discussion Question 1, “Have you ever felt like a ‘rose that grew from concrete,’ as described by Tupac Shakur? If so, what was the difficult situation that you faced, and how did you rise above it?” Encourage students to reflect on their experiences outside the classroom.
“Growing Down” by Shel Silverstein (5th Grade)
In this hilarious poem, Mr. Brown is a grumpy old man who constantly tells the children in the neighborhood to grow up. The children tell Mr. Brown that he should try to “grow down” and be less grumpy. Mr. Brown begins to act like a child and do silly things around town. He learns that it is much more fun growing down than growing up!
This poem could be paired with “The Clock Man” by Shel Silverstein, which is also about the differences between childhood and adulthood. After reading the two texts, students can discuss how both poems explore the theme of growing up.
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